Bulgarian Cookbooks Available Worldwide in Germany, Japan, France, United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Spain, Mexico on AMAZON.com

February 20, 2017 by  
Filed under Books, Featured, News

Amazon has marketplaces worldwide and offers all Bulgarian Cooking Cookbooks for purchase with the simple click of a button.

To purchase in Germany (Jetzt Kaufen): https://www.amazon.de

To purchase in UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk

To purchase in Spain (Comprar Ahora): https://www.amazon.es

To purchase in Japan: https://www.amazon.co.jp

To purchase in France (Achetez-le Maintenant): https://www.amazon.fr

To purchase in Canada: https://www.amazon.ca

To purchase in Mexico (Comprar Ahora): https://www.amazon.com.mx

Temp Bulgarian Government Assigned before Early Elections in March 2017

February 1, 2017 by  
Filed under Featured, News

During their first cabinet meeting, the caretaker ministers of Bulgaria have agreed on a new structure of the government and have been assigned several tasks. There will be four Deputy Prime Ministers in the interim government, the same number as in the previous cabinet, according to the list of decisions sent by the government’s press office. Their portfolios, however, will be slightly different as the elected cabinet had a Deputy PM for “coalition policy”, while the caretaker government does not include such a post and has a deputy to oversee the preparation of Bulgaria’s Council of the EU presidency instead.

  • Interim Health Minister Ilko Semerdzhiev will also be Deputy Prime Minister in charge of social policies.
  • Stefan Yanev, the caretaker Defense Minister, for his part will have a Deputy Prime Minister office overseeing internal order and security.
  • Deputy Prime Ministers on EU funding (Malina Krumova) and the rotating EU presidency(Denitsa Zlateva) will have no portfolios.

The Prime Minister will have as many as 16 staff, including advisers, experts and assistants in his political cabinet. Each deputy Prime Minister with a portfolio will have three experts and the same number of advisers and assistants on his or her team. Deputy PMs without portfolios will count on 10-strong cabinets. In a separate move, Health Minister Semerdzhiev and Labour Minister Galab Donev have been tasked to be the government’s representatives to the National Council on Tripartite Cooperation – meetings of state authorities with businesses and trade unions.

As Deputy PM on internal order, Stefan Yanev has been tasked with the overall coordination of the early parliamentary election scheduled for March 26.

Bulgarian vs Russian New Problematic Laws on Religion

January 10, 2017 by  
Filed under Featured, News, Research

As Bulgaria prepares to assume the Chairmanship of the 55-nation Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), its Law on Religions is a concern, as several provisions are out of step with Bulgaria’s religious freedom commitments as an OSCE participating State. Reports of problems with the new law are already arising. The Sofia City Court, which is mandated to handle all registration applications, has reportedly stalled on the re-registration of some groups, as the new registration scheme includes additional elements not previously required. For instance, since visas are contingent on re-registration, the Missionary Sisters of Charity and the Salesians have reportedly been denied visas. Unfortunately, in the rush to approve the legislation in December 2002, some religious communities were reportedly not consulted during the drafting process, and the government’s promise to have the draft critiqued again by the Council of Europe went unfulfilled. Also, on July 15, 2003, the law was reviewed by the Bulgarian Constitutional Court, in response to a complaint brought by 50 Parliamentary deputies. The Court upheld the legislation, despite six judges ruling against and five in favor. Under Bulgarian law, seven of the court’s twelve judges must rule together for a law to be found unconstitutional. Notwithstanding this decision on the constitutionality of the law, the following report highlights areas in need of further evaluation and legislative refinement in light of Bulgaria’s OSCE commitments on religious freedom. Concerns exist with how the Bulgarian Orthodox Church is favored over the alternative Orthodox synod and other religious groups. In addition, the new registration scheme appears open to manipulation and arbitrary decisions, thereby jeopardizing property holdings and the ability to manifest religious beliefs, as both depend on official registration. The sanctions available under the Law on Religions are also ambiguous yet far-reaching, potentially restricting a variety of religious freedom rights. It is therefore hoped the Government of Bulgaria will demonstrate a good faith effort to ensure the religion law is in conformity with its OSCE commitments. This report outlines a number of suggested changes. The government could also submit the Law on Religions for technical review to the OSCE Panel of Experts on Freedom of Religion or the Council of Europe. Either of these bodies could highlight deficiencies addressable through amendments.

religious-law-and-abortion1GOVERNMENT RECOGNITION OF A “TRADITIONAL” CHURCH
Article 11 was crafted to force a resolution to the longstanding church dispute between the Bulgarian Orthodox Church and an alternative Orthodox synod, which split after the fall of communism. Article 11 enumerated detailed characteristics of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, thereby establishing the synod of Patriarch Maxim above the other Orthodox synod and all other religious communities. In short, Article 11(1) attempted to settle the church dispute through legislative fiat by establishing the Bulgarian Orthodox Church as the “traditional religion,” a politically expedient decision which is inconsistent with Bulgaria’s OSCE commitments.

While Article 11(2) automatically registers the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, the other Orthodox synod is faced with going through the complete registration process. Registration is critical, as the law ties property ownership rights to legal personality. However, the process is open to manipulation where the government could deny registration to select religious groups. Considering the animosity between the Orthodox synods over property, this appears to place the unrecognized Orthodox synod at a great disadvantage. Article 11(3) does state: “Paragraph 1 and 2 cannot be the basis to grant privileges or any advantages [to the Bulgarian Orthodox Church] over other denominations by a law or sub-law.” However, while this claims no special benefits accrue, Article 11(2) is contradictory as it automatically gives the Bulgarian Orthodox Church legal personality, an “advantage” no other church or religious group receives through the law. Favoritism of this kind also creates internal conflicts within the religion law, as Article 3(1) prohibits limitations or privileges based on “affiliation or rejection of affiliation to a religion,” and Article 4(4) states “no religiously based discrimination shall be allowed.”

Considering the problematic nature of these provisions, removing Article 11(1) through amendment would allow these two religious Orthodox communities to reconcile their differences independently without government involvement. The appropriate venue for the handling of these types of disputes is the court system, not the Parliament . In addition, amending Article 11(2) either to allow automatic registration of all previously registered churches or omit entirely this provision would lessen the discriminatory effect of the law.

REGISTRATION
It is positive that the law does not require registration, nor does it establish temporal or numerical thresholds for religious communities to meet. Yet, the proper administration of the registration process has increased in importance, since many rights and powers of organizations and their communities appear tied to registration status and other avenues for legal personality have been closed. For example, Article 29(2) provides that nonprofit organizations do not have “the right to accomplish activities which represent practice of religion in public.” As a result, if a group does not obtain official registration as a “religious community,” no other options exist to provide some type of legal personality. The Law on Religions does provide guidelines for the registration process. Article 16 requires that all religious groups wishing to register must do so before the Sofia City Court. This is problematic, as it adds an unnecessary burden for groups existing outside the capital. Improvements to the law should allow the submission of national registration requests in every provincial capital court or other designated government office.

For local branches to form officially, Article 21 requires the organization to first register at the national level and then re-register at the local level through a mayor’s office. While the drafters intended this to be a perfunctory requirement, it is problematic, as it creates yet another unneeded bureaucratic hurdle to overcome. Additionally, the involvement of mayors in the registration of religious groups should be avoided, as in the past registration through mayoral offices were plagued by arbitrary and non-transparent decisions. Revisions should remove registration requirements obligating groups already registered to re-register at the local level. If local re-registration must occur, amendments should permit re-registration at a local court or other designated government office. The Article 19(2) requirement that a “short statement of religious beliefs” be included in an application, which can be reviewed by the Directorate of Religions for an “expert opinion” (Article 18), is highly problematic. This places the government in the subjective position of evaluating the beliefs of a religious community to determine if they “qualify” as a religion. Therefore, the removal of the Article 19(2) requirement is recommended, so that the Directorate of Religion cannot base recommendation for registration eligibility on the religious beliefs of an applicant group.

There are at least two instances in the Law on Religions that demonstrate the critical nature of registration. Article 5(3) appears to allow only registered religious organizations to engage in the public manifestation of religion. “The religious belief is expressed in private when it is accomplished from a specified member of the religious community or in the presence of persons belonging to the community, and in public, when its expression can as well become accessible for people not belonging to the respective religious community.” How the government will apply this article is unclear, as it attempts to distinguish the public versus the private practice of religion. If only registered religious organizations can publicly manifest their beliefs, this is inconsistent with OSCE commitments that protect the right to practice religion with or without legal entity status. It should consequently be made explicit through refining amendments that unregistered religious groups and their members have the right to engage in the public manifestation of their religious beliefs.

Furthermore, it is unclear if individual members of a religious community can own property in their personal capacity for use by the corporate body, as only registered communities can hold property under Article 24(1). The article states: “Religions and their branches, which have acquired status of a legal person, according to the procedures of this law shall have right to their own property.” This reenforces the importance of ensuring the registration process is timely and transparent. Amendments should make explicit that individual members of a religious community may own private property for use by the corporate body.

LIMITATION CLAUSE
Article 7(1) of the religion law provides: “Freedom of religions shall not be directed against national security, public order, people’s health and the morals or the rights and freedoms of persons under the jurisdiction of the republic of Bulgaria or other states.” This language is similar to other limitation clauses, but its structure is problematic, as it enunciates standards not found under Article 17 of the Vienna Concluding Document of the OSCE or Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. For example, the Vienna Concluding Document in Article 17 declared, “The participating States recognize that the exercise of the above-mentioned rights relating to the freedom of religion or belief may be subject only to such limitations as are provided by law and consistent with their obligations under international law and with their international commitments.” The next sentence is also an important qualifier, declaring States “will ensure in their laws and regulations and in their application the full and effective exercise of the freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief.” Article 18(3) of the ICCPR stated: “Freedom to manifest one’s religion or beliefs may be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary to protect public safety, order, health, or morals or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others.”

It is well settled that restrictions on manifestations of belief must be consistent with the rule of law and must be necessary in a democratic society— directly related and proportionate to the specific need on which the limitation is predicated. For example, it is not enough to justify burdensome limitations by merely arguing they are key to maintaining public order. Only when limitations further a legitimate government objective and are genuinely “necessary” can negating a religious freedom be justified. To be sure, this test is not easily met. In addition, international custom has not established “national security” as a legitimate reason for limiting religious rights, so amendments to the law should correct Article 7 to reflect the abovementioned international standards.

SANCTIONS
Article 9 of the Law on Religions allows courts to impose sanctions against groups if they determine
that an Article 7 violation has occurred. The six available sanctions available under Article 9 include:
(1) Prohibiting dissemination of certain printed publications;
(2) Prohibiting publishing activity;
(3) Restricting public manifestations;
(4) Depriving registration of educational, health or social enterprises;
(5) Cancelling activities for a period of up to six months;
(6) Nullifying registration of the legal entity of the religion.

The Article 9 restrictions are vague yet extensive in their scope, potentially curtailing a variety of fundamental freedoms. Accordingly, the use of the Article 9 sanctions list must be predicated on a finding of abuse under the Article 7 limitations clause. However, the situations enumerated in Article 7 are for exceptional situations. As these sanctions touch upon fundamental rights, use of Article 9 and the denial of these rights should not occur for mere infractions of administrative regulations. As previously discussed, international commitments make clear that limitations on the manifestation of religion are permissible only in narrowly defined situations.

A distinction must also be made between the actions of individuals and punitive sanctions on the entire religious community. It is individuals, not whole religious groups, who may be involved in criminal activities, so penalties should not punish the entire community for the actions of individuals. However, provision (3) empowers courts to restrict the public manifestation of religious views for an entire religious community, in effect restricting an individual member’s right to practice his or her faith. Provision (6) is also a concern; if a court can remove a religious group’s registration status, it is unclear who would hold their property, potentially exposing their holdings to seizure.

Concerns exist that the Article 9 sanctions list will be employed in situations not meeting international standards, thereby allowing the restriction of the freedom of speech, the freedom to the religious education of children in conformity with the parent’s convictions, and the freedom to profess and practice, alone or in community with others, religion or belief. Therefore, removal through amendment of the Article 9 sanctions list would be positive, as it potentially allows overly burdensome restrictions on basic human rights. Further concerns over potential sanctions exist in other areas of the religion law. Later in Article 37(8), the law also gives the Directorate of Religion the unchecked and potentially arbitrary powers to take complaints from citizens concerning violations of Article 7, and when deemed appropriate, forward the complaints to the public prosecutor. Allowing the Directorate to function in this manner opens the opportunity for the politicization of religious freedom issues, potentially exposing the Directorate to pressures to act arbitrarily against certain minority religious communities. Consequently, legislators are encouraged to eliminate the ability of the Directorate of Religion to forward complaints to the public prosecutor, as this role is better left with law enforcement agencies.

Article 38 has established monetary penalties for “any person carrying out religious activity in the name of a religion without representational authority.” The provision appears crafted to penalize the unrecognized Orthodox synod for using what it considers to be its name, and could easily be misused against religious communities deemed by authorities as unpopular or out of favor.

property.” This reenforces the importance of ensuring the registration process is timely and transparent. Amendments should make explicit that individual members of a religious community may own private property for use by the corporate body.

LIMITATION CLAUSE
Article 7(1) of the religion law provides: “Freedom of religions shall not be directed against national security, public order, people’s health and the morals or the rights and freedoms of persons under the jurisdiction of the republic of Bulgaria or other states.” This language is similar to other limitation clauses, but its structure is problematic, as it enunciates standards not found under Article 17 of the Vienna Concluding Document of the OSCE or Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. For example, the Vienna Concluding Document in Article 17 declared, “The participating States recognize that the exercise of the above-mentioned rights relating to the freedom of religion or belief may be subject only to such limitations as are provided by law and consistent with their obligations under international law and with their international commitments.” The next sentence is also an important qualifier, declaring States “will ensure in their laws and regulations and in their application the full and effective exercise of the freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief.” Article 18(3) of the ICCPR stated: “Freedom to manifest one’s religion or beliefs may be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary to protect public safety, order, health, or morals or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others.”

It is well settled that restrictions on manifestations of belief must be consistent with the rule of law and must be necessary in a democratic society— directly related and proportionate to the specific need on which the limitation is predicated. For example, it is not enough to justify burdensome limitations by merely arguing they are key to maintaining public order. Only when limitations further a legitimate government objective and are genuinely “necessary” can negating a religious freedom be justified. To be sure, this test is not easily met. In addition, international custom has not established “national security” as a legitimate reason for limiting religious rights, so amendments to the law should correct Article 7 to reflect the abovementioned international standards.

SANCTIONS
Article 9 of the Law on Religions allows courts to impose sanctions against groups if they determine
that an Article 7 violation has occurred. The six available sanctions available under Article 9 include:
(1) Prohibiting dissemination of certain printed publications;
(2) Prohibiting publishing activity;
(3) Restricting public manifestations;
(4) Depriving registration of educational, health or social enterprises;
(5) Cancelling activities for a period of up to six months;
(6) Nullifying registration of the legal entity of the religion.

The Article 9 restrictions are vague yet extensive in their scope, potentially curtailing a variety of fundamental freedoms. Accordingly, the use of the Article 9 sanctions list must be predicated on a finding of abuse under the Article 7 limitations clause. However, the situations enumerated in Article 7 are for exceptional situations. As these sanctions touch upon fundamental rights, use of Article 9 and the denial of these rights should not occur for mere infractions of administrative regulations. As previously discussed, international commitments make clear that limitations on the manifestation of religion are permissible only in narrowly defined situations.

A distinction must also be made between the actions of individuals and punitive sanctions on the entire religious community. It is individuals, not whole religious groups, who may be involved in criminal activities, so penalties should not punish the entire community for the actions of individuals. However, provision (3) empowers courts to restrict the public manifestation of religious views for an entire religious community, in effect restricting an individual member’s right to practice his or her faith. Provision (6) is also a concern; if a court can remove a religious group’s registration status, it is unclear who would hold their property, potentially exposing their holdings to seizure.

Concerns exist that the Article 9 sanctions list will be employed in situations not meeting international standards, thereby allowing the restriction of the freedom of speech, the freedom to the religious education of children in conformity with the parent’s convictions, and the freedom to profess and practice, alone or in community with others, religion or belief. Therefore, removal through amendment of the Article 9 sanctions list would be positive, as it potentially allows overly burdensome restrictions on basic human rights. Further concerns over potential sanctions exist in other areas of the religion law. Later in Article 37(8), the law also gives the Directorate of Religion the unchecked and potentially arbitrary powers to take complaints from citizens concerning violations of Article 7, and when deemed appropriate, forward the complaints to the public prosecutor. Allowing the Directorate to function in this manner opens the opportunity for the politicization of religious freedom issues, potentially exposing the Directorate to pressures to act arbitrarily against certain minority religious communities. Consequently, legislators are encouraged to eliminate the ability of the Directorate of Religion to forward complaints to the public prosecutor, as this role is better left with law enforcement agencies.

Article 38 has established monetary penalties for “any person carrying out religious activity in the name of a religion without representational authority.” The provision appears crafted to penalize the unrecognized Orthodox synod for using what it considers to be its name, and could easily be misused against religious communities deemed by authorities as unpopular or out of favor.

Christmas Book Sale: The CASE of a NATO CHAPLAINCY MODEL within the BULGARIAN ARMY

December 10, 2016 by  
Filed under Books, Events, Featured, News, Publication, Research

In the past five years since 2011, we have authored over two dozen books related to our ministry and mission work in Eastern Europe. As several of the prints are now almost exhausted and second/third editions and several new titles are under way, we are releasing all currently available editions in a Christmas sale through the month of December. All titles are available at up to 30% off and Amazon offers free shipping and extra savings for bundle purchases.

Our book available on sale today is:

THE CASE OF A NATO CHAPLAINCY MODEL WITHIN THE BULGARIAN ARMY (Submitted to the Manfred Wörner Foundation)

chaplaincy-in-bulgariaIn April 2004, Bulgaria was officially accepted into the global structure of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). The event followed a long series of historic developments that were accomplished despite the existence of highly antagonistic forces that opposed the very idea of Bulgaria’s membership in any Western alliance. Among these were internal and external political, economical and social factors that historically have forced the country to remain under the influence of the forces opposing the West.

As the country of Bulgaria is now a member of NATO and awaits acceptance into the European Union in 2007, international experts are working with various government institutions and consultant agencies to create an atmosphere in which the Bulgarian mindset can experience a new national revival in the 21st century. NATO’s involvement in this process serves as a catalyst both for reinforcing Bulgaria’s infrastructure and attracting international interest in the country’s affairs. Issues concerning national security, military involvement, international relations, economical development and ethnic diversity are continuously and carefully taken into consideration. However, one issue still remains untouched neither by NATO’s official position in Bulgaria, nor by the Bulgarian government. This is the issue of faith.

Three reasons make such topic of relevant importance. First, Bulgaria claims traditional and historical religious belongingness to the Eastern Orthodox Church. Furthermore, the centuries of religious wars on the Balkans have formed a complete dependency on ethnic religiosity, making faith the prime factor for animosity, hatred and genocide. Finally, the issue of morale and morality in the armed forces remains open for any military unit and will need to be addressed sooner or later in the context of NATO’s presence in Bulgaria.

This research will show how the above issues could be resolved by the presence of a NATO paradigm for chaplaincy within the Bulgarian Armed Forces. The paper will explore the current developments of chaplaincy in Bulgaria on three levels: church, society and government. It will then present the case of “underground chaplaincy” in Bulgaria and provide an appropriate solution to be implemented through the newly established Bulgarian Chaplaincy Association. The conclusion will outline the benefits that can be achieved by a partnership between local NATO representatives and the Bulgarian Chaplaincy Association who combine efforts to restore the spirituality within the Bulgarian Army through the legalization of chaplaincy ministry within its structures.

Also important [click to read]:

Chronology of our role and involvement in developing Church of God chaplaincy in Bulgaria since 2001

History of Events
05/12 Anticipated Date for Graduation of the First Cohort of Master’s Program of Chaplaincy Ministry in Bulgaria

2011
09/11 – Master’s of Chaplaincy Ministry Program Module 3: Counceling Completed
07/11 – Master’s of Chaplaincy Ministry Program Module 2: Theology Completed
03/11 – Master’s of Chaplaincy Ministry Program approved by the Educational Committee of the Bulgarian Evangelical Theological Institute
01/11 – Master’s of Chaplaincy Ministry Program Continues

2010
10/10 – Master’s of Chaplaincy Ministry Program Module 1: Chaplaincy Completed
09/10 Master’s of Chaplaincy Ministry Program begins in Sofia, Bulgaria
06/10 Chaplaincy Conference and Master’s of Chaplaincy for Bulgaria
01/10 Proposal masters program finalized and submitted for approval to the Educational Committee of the Bulgarian Evangelical Theological Institute

2009
10/09 Bulgarian Chaplaincy Association holds an introductory chaplaincy course in Yambol, Bulgaria

2008
12/08 Family Seminar for Military Men and Women held in Yambol
11/08 Bulgarian Chaplaincy Association Annual Meeting
09/08 – Bulgarian Chaplaincy Associations noted in Church of God publications
06/08 – The Case of a NATO Chaplaincy Model within the Bulgarian Army released
06/08 – Celebrating 10 Years of Military Ministry in Bulgaria

2007
10/07 – Bulgarian Chaplaincy Associations Recognized by U.S. Department of State
07/07 – National Chaplaincy Conference in Yambol, Bulgaria
03/07 – Bulgarian Chaplaincy Association was officially registered
02/07 – Bulgarian Chaplaincy Association gains legal status
01/07 – Bulgarian Chaplaincy Assassination noted by international religious freedom watch dog Forum 18

2006
12/06 – Registration Rejected Bulgarian Chaplaincy Association by Bulgarian court
11/06 – A master program in chaplaincy ministry has been proposed for the Bulgarian Evangelical Theological Institute in Sofia
10/06 – Bulgarian Chaplaincy Association Founder’s Meeting in Sofia, Bulgaria
10/06 – A contextualized course for chaplaincy ministry is offered at the Bulgarian Evangelical Theological Institute in Sofia
08/06 – Bulgarian Chaplaincy Association’s Resolution No. 1 sets course toward chaplaincy in churches, education and government institutions
07/06 – National Chaplaincy Meeting in Yambol, Bulgaria
06/06 – Meeting with NATO Chaplains
05/06 – Cup & Cross Ministries submitted a research paper to NATO’s Manfred Wörner Foundation dealing with the case of underground chaplaincy within the Bulgarian Armed Forces
03/06 – A contextualized course for chaplaincy ministry was offered in Veliko Turnovo
02/06 – www.kapelanstvo.com was released to serve as the official website of the chaplaincy movement in Bulgaria

2005
10/05 – A national training seminar held in Veliko Turnovo
10/05 – The Bulgarian Chaplaincy Association was presented before the Bulgarian Evangelical Alliance
09/05 – Regional meeting in Nova Zagora which addressed the current issues
08/05 – A regional chaplaincy meeting in Sliven
07/05 – Publication of camouflage New Testaments and Bibles, some of which we distributed to Bulgarian army personal including the divisions currently serving in Iraq

2004-2001

Christmas Book Sale: Bulgarian Congregations in North America

December 1, 2016 by  
Filed under Books, Featured, News

In the past five years since 2011, we have authored over two dozen books related to our ministry and mission work in Eastern Europe. As several of the prints are now almost exhausted and second/third editions and several new titles are under way, we are releasing all currently available editions in a Christmas sale through the month of December. All titles are available at up to 30% off and Amazon offers free shipping and extra savings for bundle purchases.

Our book available on sale today is:

Bulgarian Churches in North America: The Unrealized Spiritual Harvest as a Paradigm for Cross-Cultural Ministries among Migrant and Disfranchised Ethnic Groups in America Today

bulgarian-church ….A closer examination of the ministry and structure of the network of Bulgarian churches in North America will give answers to essential issues of cross-cultural evangelism and ministry for the Church of God. Unfortunately, until now very little has proven effective in exploring, pursuing and implementing cross-cultural paradigms within the ministry opportunities in communities formed by immigrants from post-Communist countries. As a result, these communities have remained untouched by the eldership and resources available within the Church of God denomination. There are presently no leaders trained by the Church of God for the needs of these migrant communities. Thus, a great urban harvest in large metropolises, where the Church of God has not been historically present in a strong way, remains ungathered. Although, through these communities, the Church of God has the unique opportunity to experience the post-Communist revival from Eastern Europe in a local Western setting… (p.84, Chapter III: Contextual Assessment, Historical Background, Structural Analyses and Demographics of Immigration in a Paradigm for Cross-Cultural Ministries among Migrant and Disfranchised Ethnic Groups in America Today) Read complete paper (PDF)

How to Start a Bulgarian Church in America from A-to-Z

Bulgarian Churches in North America: The Unrealized Spiritual Harvest as a Paradigm for Cross-Cultural Ministries among Migrant and Disfranchised Ethnic Groups in America Today

October 30, 2016 by  
Filed under Books, Featured, News

bulgarian-church ….A closer examination of the ministry and structure of the network of Bulgarian churches in North America will give answers to essential issues of cross-cultural evangelism and ministry for the Church of God. Unfortunately, until now very little has proven effective in exploring, pursuing and implementing cross-cultural paradigms within the ministry opportunities in communities formed by immigrants from post-Communist countries. As a result, these communities have remained untouched by the eldership and resources available within the Church of God denomination. There are presently no leaders trained by the Church of God for the needs of these migrant communities. Thus, a great urban harvest in large metropolises, where the Church of God has not been historically present in a strong way, remains ungathered. Although, through these communities, the Church of God has the unique opportunity to experience the post-Communist revival from Eastern Europe in a local Western setting… (p.84, Chapter III: Contextual Assessment, Historical Background, Structural Analyses and Demographics of Immigration in a Paradigm for Cross-Cultural Ministries among Migrant and Disfranchised Ethnic Groups in America Today) Read complete paper (PDF)

How to Start a Bulgarian Church in America from A-to-Z

10 Years Bulgarian Chaplaincy Association

August 20, 2016 by  
Filed under Featured, News

Comments Off on 10 Years Bulgarian Chaplaincy Association

chaplaincy-in-bulgariaA decade ago we established the Bulgarian Chaplaincy Association with a vision for ministry in the Bulgarian army, Ministry of Internal Affairs, jail and prison systems, Bulgarian seaports and airports, and the healthcare system. Out of these five goals set before us in 2006 we have fulfilled them all:

1. Tolerant and equal representations of all confessions in the chaplaincy ministry
2. The implementation of a contextualized chaplaincy model
3. The integration of chaplaincy education in all Bulgarian theological higher educational institutions
4. And the educational and consultant work on government and church levels

except:

5. The establishment of legal grounds for regular paid chaplaincy service in the Bulgarian army, Ministry of Internal Affairs, jail and prison systems, Bulgarian seaports and airports, and the healthcare system.

After designing and teaching the Masters of Chaplaincy Ministry program in two major evangelical universities in Bulgaria, we now have some of our trained chaplains working in jails, prisons, healthcare, civil emergency services and the corporate/political level. The legal system in Bulgaria, however, is yet to provide the proper measure for restoring chaplaincy in Bulgaria’s armed forces. To this final step fulfillment we pledge out support in 2016.

Bulgarian Chaplaincy Association: Vision and Resolution

Bulgarian Chaplaincy Association
Resolution No. 1

We,

The founding members of the Bulgarian Chaplaincy Association in its first national assembly today August 19, 2006 in hotel Diana Palace, Yambol

In regard of:
1. Bulgaria’s membership in NATO and its upcoming integration in the European Union
2. The transformations within the Bulgarian Army from mandatory toward standard paid service and the participation of Bulgarian contingent in NATO and UN missions
3. Contract agreement for NATO airbases on Bulgarian territory
4. The strategic renewal of chaplaincy ministry in the Bulgarian army
5. And the present need of chaplaincy ministry integrated in the Bulgarian army, Ministry of Internal Affairs, jail and prison systems, Bulgarian seaports and airports, and the healthcare system,

Declare our support toward:
1. The establishment of legal grounds for regular paid chaplaincy service in the Bulgarian army, Ministry of Internal Affairs, jail and prison systems, Bulgarian seaports and airports, and the healthcare system
2. Tolerant and equal representations of all confessions in the chaplaincy ministry
3. The implementation of a contextualized chaplaincy model
4. The integration of chaplaincy education in all Bulgarian theological higher educational institutions
5. And the educational and consultant work on government and church levels.

We, the founding members of the Bulgarian Chaplaincy Association will work toward the renewal, popularization and equal religious representation of chaplaincy ministry in all professional areas.

August 19, 2006
Diana Palace, Yambol

Also important [click to read]:

Establishment of the Bulgarian Chaplaincy Association (2001-2006)

July 1, 2016 by  
Filed under Events, Featured, News

chaplainWe are proud to announce that the Master’s of Chaplaincy Ministry Program, we designed and launched in Bulgaria in 2006, has been selected to be part of the Social Service Program of New Bulgarian University. After being for years a valuable part of the regular curriculum of the Bulgarian Evangelical Theological Institute and the St. Trivelius Institute in the capital Sofia, the chaplaincy program has received the highest level of recognition as successful graduates will be finally able to receive government recognized degrees and apply their knowledge and training in chaplaincy on a professional level. The chaplaincy program can also serve within the Integration Proposal of local NATO programs and be instrumental in dealing with the enormous wave of Middle East migrants crossing through Bulgaria today.

Tchaplaincy-in-bulgariahe Bulgarian Chaplaincy Association was envisioned in the summer of 2001 to unite all underground chaplaincy workers within the territory of Bulgaria. This included several ministries already active in Bulgaria serving in various contexts like military, healthcare, benevolence, jail system and commercial marine. The main goal was to establish a context in which all of these ministries could come together and be represented before the Bulgarian churches and government.

Although various other projects in the area of Bulgarian chaplaincy had been undertaken in previous years, the foundation initiative was formed in response to an invitation of the Church of God Chaplaincy Commission to hold a training seminar in the National Palace in the capital, Sofia in the fall of 2001. Due to the September 11th crises, the seminar was postponed and held February 16-23, 2002 under the patronage of the Bulgarian Church of God. More than 60 people, actively involved in military, hospital and prison ministries, students and church members, attended the lectures. The seminar was a stepping stone for the development of the Bulgarian Chaplaincy Association. Similar seminars were held consecutively in 2003-2004 in various locations.

The following strategic actions continued the endeavor. On August 13, 2005 a regional meeting in the Sliven area discussed the implementation of future strategies in the light of NATO’s decision to place airbases on Bulgarian soil. Individual and group meetings with chaplains from various professional fields and geographical regions followed.

Additionally, a national training seminar was held in Veliko Turnovo on October 8, 2005 where ten regional chaplaincy ministries were represented. The major issues discussed were (1) media presentation of the chaplaincy work before the major evangelical denominations in Bulgaria and the secular society, (2) dealing with stress-related issues at the work place, (3) system restructuring to meet the needs of the growing ministry and (4) the mandatory legal affairs currently restricting chaplaincy in Bulgaria. The participants discussed and approved a six-month national agenda toward solving the above problems and developing timely practical solutions. A priority on the list was the presentation of chaplaincy ministry before Bulgarian evangelical denominations.

The presentation was successfully achieved October 18, 2005 before the national leadership of the Bulgarian Evangelical Alliance. Three educational levels were proposed in the area of chaplaincy: candidate chaplains, church and government.

A consecutive regional meeting on October 23, 2005 in Nova Zagora addressed current dilemmas and outlined the necessary steps to complete the above educational strategy. The first goal was to develop a basic chaplaincy course for the Bulgarian Evangelical Theological Institute. The course was designed in the winter of 2005-2006 and after a series of meetings with denominational leaders and educational representatives, was submitted to the board of directors of the Bulgarian Evangelical Theological Institute on June 12, 2006. Prior to its submission, the course was presented in a pilot form to the regional directors of the Ministry to the Military at a training seminar in Veliko Tarnovo on April 8-10, 2006. The basic chaplaincy course designed by the Bulgarian Chaplaincy Association was scheduled to be taught in the fall semester of 2006 and plans were set to include it in the larger scope of the master’s level chaplaincy program with the Bulgarian Evangelical Theological Institute in 2007.

After much anticipation, on August 19, 2006 in the city of Yambol, the Bulgarian Chaplaincy Association called a founders meeting to discuss its legalization by the Bulgarian government. Active chaplains from various fields, ministers, pastors and scholars were present at the meeting to represent over 200 Bulgarians nationally involved in chaplaincy ministry. An official resolution was accepted and signed by the delegates to become the establishing document of the Bulgarian Chaplaincy Association. With this event, the Bulgarian Chaplaincy Association, which began in 2001 and has been instrumental in creating, recognizing and implementing such opportunities for ministry in the military as well as other fields of chaplaincy, has begun its final approach toward becoming a legal non-government organization active within the territory of Bulgaria.

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Current Context of Chaplaincy in Bulgaria

June 30, 2016 by  
Filed under Featured, News, Research

BH6KRJ Dirty hands holding an old bible. Very short depth-of-field

chaplaincy-in-bulgariaWe are proud to announce that the Master’s of Chaplaincy Ministry Program, we designed and launched in Bulgaria in 2006, has been selected to be part of the Social Service Program of New Bulgarian University. After being for years a valuable part of the regular curriculum of the Bulgarian Evangelical Theological Institute and the St. Trivelius Institute in the capital Sofia, the chaplaincy program has received the highest level of recognition as successful graduates will be finally able to receive government recognized degrees and apply their knowledge and training in chaplaincy on a professional level. The chaplaincy program can also serve within the Integration Proposal of local NATO programs and be instrumental in dealing with the enormous wave of Middle East migrants crossing through Bulgaria today.

The fall of the Berlin Wall introduced a new reality that Bulgaria was not prepared to embrace. The end of Communism was unable to tear down the communist mentality. Today, an entire Bulgarian generation lives with the scars inflicted by their experience under years of the Communist Regime, while another generation lives with an immense historical gap that has formed a new political, social, economical and cultural reality.

Three points are worth noting about Bulgaria’s Postcommunist context. First, in the beginning of the 21st century Bulgaria is left with armed forces, which were organized and influenced by the Soviet model and still act accordingly. The bureaucratic infrastructure disallows and discourages any changes apart from carefully chosen decisions that keep the army’s activities to the minimum possible. The two main factors needed for any change to occur, namely decision-making processes and chain of command, still operate under an Eastern Soviet paradigm.

Second, atheistic morale has gained the status of a positive military qualification in the Bulgarian military. This may sound familiar for any given army; however, in most cases it replaces a religious attitude with an atheistic one. In the Postcommunist context, atheistic beliefs pervade and even when a soldier experiences a genuine need for spirituality, in most cases s/he has no religious root to which to return. This lack of alternative or spiritual choice results in a pessimistic morale, intensified by the required mandatory military services.

Third, a Postcommunist mentality with definite Balkan characteristics rules not only the army but also the country as a whole. The economical, political and cultural crises have remained an undividable part of Bulgaria’s reality in the past 16 years. There, Postcommunist mentality holds captive every progressive thought and idea.

It is natural to conclude that the active solider within the Bulgarian Armed Forces is left without much choice when it comes to his/her personal and spiritual development. A positive career development is possible only when pressed by the economical factors one accepts to be part of a highly inactive bureaucratic machine. On the other hand, any attempt for spiritual growth is constrained and receives little privilege to become fully expressed. Naturally, such dynamics decrease one’s motivation for further development due to the lack of morale emerging from a personal spirituality. And because an army without a spirit is no army at all, the current condition of the Bulgarian Army is in much need of revival.

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Bulgarian Chaplaincy Association: Integration Proposal with Local NATO Programs

June 25, 2016 by  
Filed under Books, Featured, News, Publication, Research

NATO chaplaincy

chaplaincy-in-bulgariaBulgarian Chaplaincy Association: Celebrating a Decade of Ministry

We are proud to announce that the Master’s of Chaplaincy Ministry Program, we designed and launched in Bulgaria in 2006, has been selected to be part of the Social Service Program of New Bulgarian University. After being for years a valuable part of the regular curriculum of the Bulgarian Evangelical Theological Institute and the St. Trivelius Institute in the capital Sofia, the chaplaincy program has received the highest level of recognition as successful graduates will be finally able to receive government recognized degrees and apply their knowledge and training in chaplaincy on a professional level. The chaplaincy program can also serve within the Integration Proposal of local NATO programs and be instrumental in dealing with the enormous wave of Middle East migrants crossing through Bulgaria today.

Although the Bulgarian Chaplaincy Association emerges from and ministers within the Bulgarian cultural context, it is designed for integral cooperation with organizations of various origins. This advantage comes from the experience of previous working relationships that the organizations represented within the Association have had with other non-Bulgarian organizations. The vision, structure and operation of the Association incorporate and comply with western styles of chaplaincy work on three levels (1) cultural, (2) educational and (3) governmental.

The cultural heritage of the Bulgarian Chaplaincy Association represents a valuable environment for integration of NATO forces within the local cultural setting. On a cultural level, various events and activities such as English speaking church services, fellowship of soldiers with local communities, hospitals, orphanages and other cultural experiences are available. Humanitarian aid projects are among the most efficient manner for integration within the local community.

On an educational level, there are possibilities on both sides. For example, Bulgarian language courses for the soldiers and English language courses for the local community could be implemented. The most important element within the education strategy perhaps may be education of chaplaincy workers, especially in the current context when Bulgaria is in a need of trained crisis counselors for cases of floods and other natural disasters. Finally, local and national government relations will assist in the change of the status of chaplaincy within the Bulgarian Army. Such an approach will have positive political implications, as chaplaincy becomes a mediator between the army, church and government.

The presented proposal integrates religious moral issues along with socio-political principles in the idea for chaplaincy within the Bulgarian Army. The implications of these principles project involvement of local NATO units in partnership with local Bulgarian organizations. In the case of chaplaincy within the Bulgarian Army, the proposed organization is the newly established Bulgarian Chaplaincy Association. Although political, social and economical issues remain in the scope of its work, the Association’s main priority is the renewal of spirituality within the army structure through cutting-edge chaplaincy ministry beyond the ecclesial gates into a world of war and insecurity. The Bulgarian Chaplaincy Association acts as an agent of spiritual restoration targeting morality within the Bulgarian Army with the Bulgarian chaplain as the key element in this process. For an army without spirituality is no army at all.

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